One of the most beautiful things about a visual art community is the ability to ask for help and specific feedback of your work. The best place to post an image, a series of images or versions of the same image for critiques is in the specialist groups that you are a member of. Many groups will have a post pinned in their discussions specifically for critiques. If you tag your post with #feedback others outside your group may find your request when it appears in the summary of posts tagged with #feedback below.

why feedback and not critique

We can learn a lot from constructive and well thought out feedback. Feedback can come in many forms, both positive and negative, specific and general. A like on instagram is just a piece of no specific love. All it does is make us feel warm and fuzzy, which is why we don’t have them here. I would shudder to imagine what it would be like if we had a thumbs down button.

Feedback is best if it is very specific, well described, and non personal.

The trouble with critiques is that they focus on the negative, or the criticism and the critical. Criticism is focused on the past, not the present or the future. Criticism is focused on weaknesses, and therefore deflates. Criticism says you are the problem.

Here we give feedback, usually positive feedback, and improvement feedback when it is specifically asked for.

Feedback focuses on what you are trying to achieve, it is focused on the future, it builds up your strengths, it inspires and helps. It shines a light on where you may choose to go. Feedback says, ‘We can make this better, together.”

Here at the artists club we give feedback when it is requested.

ask for feedback

Here at the artists club we believe that feedback should be requested rather than thrust onto someones work. Therefore it is so so important that you specifically ask for feedback when you are ready and seek it.

When asking for a feedback, please consider telling us exactly you would like it on. Perhaps it is on:

  • post processing
  • composition
  • technique (technical & processes)
  • equipement
  • subject
  • lighting
  • creative processes
  • contentent identification (what bird do you think this is)
  • for processing suggestions
  • framing and cropping suggestions
  • location & time of day
  • etc

When posting an artwork for feedback it is helpful if you tell us your aims and ideas for the artwork. For example you might be trying to get the artwork to say something, if you are then its best to tell us when you ask for a critique.

When asking for critiques you give implied permission for others to download your image, and make alterations to be reposted for the purposes of education. You always retain full copyright, and your image can not be used for any other purpose.

Posting images for critiques can feel daunting, but please remember that we are all gathered here to help and support each other. Unlike other online communities, here we have strict guidelines and methodologies to ensure that feedback is constructed in a healthy and supportive manner. Always try to remember that the feedback is about your image and not about you.

There is no need to debate a critique of your work. If you find yourself wanting to justify your decisions, please ask yourself why you are actually posting an artwork for critique.

Lastly, please remember that you are only getting someone else’s opinion. In art there is right or wrong. Art is a subjective medium, full of feelings and emotions. Just because someone thinks that their way is the right way, doesn’t mean that is always the best choice for us going forward.

It doesn’t matter how much authority or power a feedback giver has; the receivers are in control of what they do and don’t let in, how they make sense of what they’re hearing, and whether they choose to change. it’s about how to recognize and manage our resistance, how to engage in feedback conversations with confidence and curiosity, and even when the feedback seems wrong, how to find insight that might help us grow. It’s also about how to stand up for who we are and how we see the world, and ask for what we need. It’s about how to learn from feedback—yes, even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood.

-Douglas Stone (Thanks for the Feedback)

guidelines for giving feedback

  • take some time to really study the artwork, and construct your feedback appropriately
  • if you can’t say something positive, don’t say anything
  • focus your feedback on the issues asked for by the artist
  • talk about the bits that work for you and why
  • be specific… the more specific the better
  • offer error correction by showing or suggesting how to modify
  • offer suggestions on things to work on / modifications
  • if the photograph ticks you off because it is good, but reminds you of something negative or of someone else’s work, then there is no reason to hammer it
  • feedback should be sought by the person not thrust on them
  • just because you like to hear what you did wrong, doesn’t mean that others want to hear that too…
  • stay positive
  • be humble and sincere 
  • be encouraging
  • avoid the personal at all costs, you are going feedback on the artwork and not the person
  • For every improvement point include

feedback model

General positive feedback makes someone feel all warm and fuzzy.

General negative feedback makes someone feel all hot and bothered. (to be avoided at all costs)

Specific positive feedback shines the light for someone and shows them where they could go.

Specific negative (improvement) feedback, if well constructed and appropriate may light a fire that causes change. (done in the ratio of three to one)

Extensive educational research clearly demonstrates that for every improvement point you give a learner, you need to counter that with at least three positive ones. Whilst the idea of an onion sandwich is criticised, it has been found to be far more effective than only giving the critical negative feedback. This is even more important in a creative learning community as art is always subjective.

We suggest you use the following format for giving feedback.

language for feedback

Thinking about the words you use is important.

Example 1:

Instead of: “That photograph is terrible it needs the side cut off!”

Try: “I think the tree is is really fascinating, it works so well. If it was my artwork I would consider a different crop that shifts the negative space and tries to balance it with the negative space on the other side of the tree.”

Example 2:

When I look at this photograph, I feel …. 

  • it tells me…
  • it reminds me…
  • I love this, because…
  • it works well because…

one more thing before you start

Please watch the following video before you give any feedback.

feedback discussions tagged with #feedback

The best place to post an artwork for feedback is in the specialised groups in the discussions. Some groups have dedicated threads for feedback, whilst others don’t. Make sure you tag your post with the tag #feedback if it already hasn’t been.

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